Wuthering Heights

Here’s a long forgotten relic from the past. It’s a BBC adaptation from 1967 of the Emily Brontë classic, and there’s really only one reason it’s out on DVD at all: It stars Ian McShane (“Deadwood”) as Heathcliff. I’m a slave to all things “Wuthering Heights,” and not just because Kate Bush put her stamp on it, either. I’ll watch any adaptation of the book that comes out, and my wife tells me this makes me a very strange man, since to her mind, it’s not a story that many guys dig. What’s not to like? A guy is jilted by his one true love and proceeds to makes life for her (and everyone she knows) a living hell. I get it; I see where ol’ Heathcliff is coming from. He probably takes it a bit too far, though, especially in the second half of the story, when Cathy’s been dead for years and he’s still pissed off and inflicting all manner of pain and degradation on the next generation. Dude – you’ve got to learn to let it go! I say this through every version, and of course he never gets it right. But those misty moors keep calling me back for further helpings, and I can’t get enough “Wuthering Heights.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t one of the better adaptations, especially given how many strong versions have been produced in recent years. With a running time of just over 3 hours, it pretty much covers the entire story, which is certainly a plus. However, the DVD artwork is somewhat misleading. The full color shot of McShane and Angela Scoular (who plays Cathy) might lead you to believe this is considerably more sumptuous than it actually is. It is in fact in black and white, and the video quality is mediocre at best. The entire thing feels like a stage play on film, and perhaps worst of all, it has no musical score whatsoever. It’s pretty creaky, vintage British TV that’s ultimately saved by McShane, who, even at the age of 25, plays an utter bastard (literally) better than most. Even with the problematic production values, he’s a force with which to be reckoned. The same can’t be said for Scoular, who’s one of the brattiest and most unlikable Cathys ever filmed. Ultimately, this version is only going to have two audiences: “Heights” completists like myself, and female McShane fans with a masochistic streak.

  

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